THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST 2 stars
Music Box Films, Rated R
With its meeting of macabre minds that includes geriatric gunslingers, robber baron sex maniacs, a homicidal transnational gene pool and one genius, DNA damaged goth gumshoe hacker, you would expect Swedish director Daniel Alfredson’s The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest to be a tantalizing, deranged thriller teeming with suspense. But the film mostly stagnates on screen, politically neutered in contrast to the Stieg Larsson international bestseller trilogy on which it is based. And like the northern climate from which the tale originates, Hornet’s Nest is less an incendiary sting than simply stalled in deep freeze.
Noomi Rapace, who continues her sulking screen ordeal as Lisbeth, the perpetually defiant, damaged soul victimized by a father and assorted depraved father figures, is left to carry the weight of this movie on her frail shoulders in virtual silence, becoming the only thing keeping it from the brink of terminal stagnation and collapse. Currently hospitalized with a bullet to the head, Lisbeth endures periodic target assassination attempts involving her estranged Soviet defector dad, his Swedish rogue agent counterparts and the brutish hitman kin stalking her in a kind of homicidal half-sibling rivalry.
And after dodging bullets during her medical recuperation, Lisbeth is imprisoned and put on trial for the attempted murder of someone subsequently murdered by someone else, but not without the continuing, persistent intervention of dedicated muckraker reporter Mikael (Michael Nyqvist). Also lurking about are suspect shrinks wielding psychiatric incarceration as a political weapon.
To make a short story exceedingly long, as the narrative steeped in legalese plods its way towards the finish line, Lisbeth moves on from raping a man right back to literally nailing a persistent perpetrator. As that happens, a suggested link between political and sexual dysfunction connecting right-wing covert tendencies to rape, sadism, bondage and pedophilia is brought to light, but as an afterthought.
On a positive note, Rapace impresses in a never-less-than-hypnotic performance, conveying with rarely evidenced presence and uncommon depth the wounds that cling to victims of sexual abuse, even when basking in legal or moral victory.